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what to do in itaewon

What To Do In Itaewon

Welcome globetrotters and wanderlust warriors! As you continue exploring the wonders of South Korea, it’s time to add a new destination to your list: the vibrant neighborhood of Itaewon. Situated in the heart of Seoul, this hip and trendy district is brimming with excitement and culture, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience for all who visit Itaewon 2023.

Whether you’re a foodie eager to sample the world at one street or a shopaholic itching for eclectic finds, Itaewon has something for everyone, with endless surprises waiting for you at every corner. So ready your itinerary as we delve into the thrilling and dynamic world of Itaewon, and discover the top activities and attractions that will make your time here truly exceptional.

From mouth-watering cuisines and iconic Itaewon nightlife to cultural attractions and hidden gems, let’s embrace the magic of Itaewon together!

Introduction To Itaewon

Itaewon is a vibrant and culturally diverse neighborhood located in the heart of Seoul, South Korea. This bustling area has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, thanks to its unique blend of international flair and rich history. With an abundance of eclectic shops, diverse eateries, and world-class museums, Itaewon offers a little something for everyone.

By day, visitors can wander through the various museums and galleries that showcase both traditional Korean art and contemporary masterpieces from around the world. You’ll also find the largest mosque in the country, the Seoul Central Mosque, as well as numerous halal-certified restaurants along Islam Street.

As the sun goes down, Itaewon truly comes alive, transforming into one of Seoul’s premier nightlife hubs, complete with its own Itaewon bar street, clubs, and restaurants. Whether you’re seeking delectable cuisine, fascinating history, or a memorable night out on the town in a classic Itaewon pub, you’ll find it all in the bustling streets of Itaewon.

Itaewon: A Short History

Itaewon, a multicultural hub in Seoul, South Korea, boasts a rich history that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The area initially served as a transportation center where travelers could get horses, and its strategic location beneath a mountain and above a river made it a convenient spot for militaries. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Itaewon grew in importance as the capital was relocated to Hanyang, now known as modern-day Seoul.

In the 1880s, as foreigners began to enter Korea, embassies and inns sprung up in the region, making Itaewon one of the most prominent spots for foreigners and travelers. The district later transformed into a shopping district twenty years after the Korean War (1950-53).

Today, Itaewon is famous for its US military base, Haebangcheon (HBC) Village clubbing district, and the upscale Hannam-dong street, attracting locals and visitors alike to its unique blend of diverse cultures, trendy restaurants, and lively nightlife. 

1. Visit The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

If you’re in Itaewon, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, an impressive space showcasing both traditional Korean art and contemporary pieces from around the world. The museum offers visitors a unique experience, as it is split between three buildings designed by prestigious architects Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas.

The Mario Botta-designed building houses primarily Buddhist artifacts, Korean ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings, while the Jean Nouvel-designed space displays Korean and international art from 1910 to the present. For families with children, the Rem Koolhaas-designed building is home to the Samsung Child Education and Culture Center. Free English tours are available on weekend afternoons, and visitors can rent audio guides at the ticket office to learn more about the impressive collection.

To get there, take Seoul Subway Line 6 to Hangangjin Station and leave through Exit 1. The museum is just a short walk up the hill, and it’s open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:30am to 6pm. Keep in mind that it’s prohibited to take photos or videos inside the museum, and if you want to avoid crowds, it’s best to visit on a weekday morning. Make sure to include the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in your Itaewon itinerary, as it’s an unmissable experience for art and architecture lovers alike.

2. Explore the Itaewon Global Village Center

Itaewon, a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of Seoul, is known for its international community and diverse range of activities. One of the most popular destinations for tourists and expats is the Itaewon Global Village Center, which offers a range of services for foreign residents and visitors. The center provides information and resources on everything from housing to healthcare, as well as language classes and cultural events.

For those looking to fully immerse themselves in the local culture, the center also offers guided tours of Itaewon and other nearby neighborhoods, providing a deeper understanding of the history, traditions, and customs of the area. Whether you’re a new resident or a seasoned traveler, the Itaewon Global Village Center is a must-visit destination when exploring what to do in Itaewon.

3. Stroll through the Itaewon Antique Street

If you’re looking for a unique and charming experience in Itaewon, a stroll through the Itaewon Antique Street should definitely be on your itinerary. This one-kilometer stretch of road features an array of antique shops and vintage boutiques selling everything from antique furniture and vintage clothing to rare books and old maps.

The street is located near the Itaewon Station, making it easily accessible for locals and tourists alike. If you’re interested in antiques and collecting vintage items, you can spend hours browsing through the stores. The wide selection of shops means that you can find trinkets, furniture, and accessories to fit any budget. Whether you’re an antique collector or simply seeking some unique souvenirs, a trip to the Itaewon Antique Street is a must-do if you’re wondering what to do in Itaewon.

4. Check out the Itaewon Shopping District

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in Seoul, look no further than the Itaewon shopping district. This lively neighborhood is known for its diverse array of stores and boutiques catering to both locals and tourists alike. From high-end fashion to vintage clothing, you’ll find it all in Itaewon.

Beyond the shopping, the area is also home to many trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a perfect spot to spend the day or night. Whether you’re a fashionista on a mission or just looking for some retail therapy, a trip to Itaewon should definitely be on your list of what to do in Itaewon.

5. Experience the Itaewon Nightlife

If you’re looking for a night out in Seoul, Itaewon is the place to be. It’s a cosmopolitan neighborhood that has become a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It’s known for its bustling nightlife, a vibrant mix of cultures, and international cuisine. One of the top things to do in Itaewon is to experience the nightlife scene.

There are plenty of bars, clubs, and music venues to choose from. Some bars are laid-back and casual, while others are more upscale and feature live entertainment. Whatever your style, you can find a place to suit your mood in Itaewon. The energy of the area is electric, and the atmosphere is unbeatable. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Itaewon, you can’t go wrong with a night out on the town.

6. Taste authentic Korean cuisine

Itaewon is the place to go if you want to experience some of the best Korean cuisine that Seoul has to offer. One of the top things to do in Itaewon is to taste authentic Korean food. Itaewon is known for its diverse food culture, offering everything from street food to high-end dining experiences. However, for a truly authentic taste of Korea, heading to a traditional Korean restaurant is a must.

Some of the best Korean restaurants in Itaewon focus on Korean BBQ or grilled meats, where guests can cook their own meat at the table. Other must-try dishes include bibimbap, a rice bowl topped with vegetables, meat, and a spicy sauce, and jjajangmyeon, a Korean-Chinese noodle dish with a savory black bean sauce. At traditional Korean restaurants, it is customary to take off your shoes and sit on the floor, adding to the authentic cultural experience.

7. Visit the Namsangol Hanok Village

One of the must-visit attractions in Itaewon is the Namsangol Hanok Village, which is a beautifully preserved traditional Korean village right in the heart of the city. The village offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Korea, with its intricate architecture, wooden floors, and tiled roofs. Visitors can expect to see a variety of traditional Korean houses, including a study, a living room, an aristocratic house, and even a matrimonial room.

The village is surrounded by picturesque gardens that contain towering trees, including a ginkgo tree that is over 400 years old. Visitors can enjoy wandering through the village while taking in the stunning surroundings. With its rich cultural heritage and peaceful atmosphere, the Namsangol Hanok Village is one of the best places to visit in Itaewon to experience the traditional way of life in Korea.

8. Enjoy the N Seoul Tower

If you happen to find yourself in Itaewon, one of the top things to do while in the area is to visit the N Seoul Tower. This landmark is a must-see for anyone traveling to Seoul. Located atop Namsan Mountain, the N Seoul Tower provides visitors with unparalleled views of the city. You can take a cable car up to the mountain, and once there, you can choose to enjoy a breathtaking meal at the revolving restaurant or simply take in the stunning vista.

The tower is also an ideal location to capture amazing pictures, especially during sunset. This iconic attraction is a great representation of the beauty and diversity that the city has to offer, making it a top attraction for anyone interested in knowing what to do in Itaewon.

9. Visit the Hongdae Shopping Street

When visiting Itaewon, make sure to add a visit to the Hongdae Shopping Street to your list of must-do activities. This lively and bustling district is known for its trendy street fashion and accessories, unique boutiques, and vintage clothing shops. You’ll also find an answer to the question “does anyone know a really great Hongdae bar“…as there are many.

Whether you’re looking for the latest in Korean fashion or a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, the Hongdae Shopping Street has something for everyone. The area also boasts numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect spot for a day of shopping and dining. With its vibrant atmosphere and diverse selection of shops and eateries, the Hongdae Shopping Street is a must-visit destination in Itaewon. Be sure to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to explore everything this exciting district has to offer.

10. Explore the nearby parks and green spaces

Itaewon, a bustling neighborhood in the heart of Seoul, presents numerous opportunities for entertainment and leisure. One activity that often gets overlooked, however, is exploring the nearby parks and green spaces. Despite being a densely populated urban area, Itaewon features several tranquil oases where visitors can immerse themselves in nature and escape the bustling city streets. From the popular Namsan Park with its iconic N Seoul Tower to the lesser-known Hyochang Park and its scenic pond, there are plenty of options for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Other notable green spaces include the Hangang Park with its picturesque river views and the Seoul Forest, an expansive park that boasts an array of recreational facilities such as a skate park, an insect museum, and bike rentals. Whether you’re a nature lover, a fitness enthusiast, or simply seeking a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, exploring the nearby parks and green spaces is a great way to spend your time in Itaewon.

To sum it up, Itaewon is definitely worth a visit for those who are looking for a fun and diverse experience in Seoul. From international cuisine to vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this bustling district. Take a stroll through the streets, try a new type of food, shop at the unique boutiques, or hit up the clubs and bars for a night out. Whatever you decide to do in Itaewon, you’re sure to have a memorable time.

James Yeong
James Yeong

Once a quaint dweller of the English countryside, James is now a vibrant voice narrating his adventures in the bustling heart of South Korea. Since relocating to Seoul in 2019, James has immersed himself in the dynamic tapestry of Korean culture, from the serene temples tucked away in mountainous terrains to the neon-lit streets of modern cities.

This blog has become a haven for those seeking an outsider's yet intimate perspective on South Korea, often shedding light on hidden gems and local favourites rather than just the typical tourist hotspots. With a keen eye for detail and a writing style dripping with wit and warmth, James has managed to amass a devoted readership from all corners of the globe.

Whether you're planning a trip to the Seoul, the surrounding cities or just vicariously traveling from the comfort of your couch, Jame's tales of exploration and discovery are sure to ignite a passion for the Land of the Morning Calm.

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